Software and the Internet have transformed the world and its industries, from shopping to entertainment to banking. Software no longer merely supports a business; rather it becomes an integral component of every part of a business. Companies interact with their customers through software delivered as online services or applications and on all sorts of devices. They also use software to increase operational efficiencies by transforming every part of the value chain, such as logistics, communications, and operations. In a similar way that physical goods companies transformed how they design, build, and deliver products using industrial automation throughout the 20th century, companies in today’s world must transform how they build and deliver software.
Transitioning to DevOps requires a change in culture and mindset. At its simplest, DevOps is about removing the barriers between two traditionally siloed teams, development and operations. In some organizations, there may not even be separate development and operations teams; engineers may do both. With DevOps, the two teams work together to optimize both the productivity of developers and the reliability of operations. They strive to communicate frequently, increase efficiencies, and improve the quality of services they provide to customers. They take full ownership for their services, often beyond where their stated roles or titles have traditionally been scoped by thinking about the end customer’s needs and how they can contribute to solving those needs. Quality assurance and security teams may also become tightly integrated with these teams. Organizations using a DevOps model, regardless of their organizational structure, have teams that view the entire development and infrastructure lifecycle as part of their responsibilities.
There are a few key practices that help organizations innovate faster through automating and streamlining the software development and infrastructure management processes. Most of these practices are accomplished with proper tooling.
One fundamental practice is to perform very frequent but small updates. This is how organizations innovate faster for their customers. These updates are usually more incremental in nature than the occasional updates performed under traditional release practices. Frequent but small updates make each deployment less risky. They help teams address bugs faster because teams can identify the last deployment that caused the error. Although the cadence and size of updates will vary, organizations using a DevOps model deploy updates much more often than organizations using traditional software development practices.
Organizations might also use a microservices architecture to make their applications more flexible and enable quicker innovation. The microservices architecture decouples large, complex systems into simple, independent projects. Applications are broken into many individual components (services) with each service scoped to a single purpose or function and operated independently of its peer services and the application as a whole. This architecture reduces the coordination overhead of updating applications, and when each service is paired with small, agile teams who take ownership of each service, organizations can move more quickly.
However, the combination of microservices and increased release frequency leads to significantly more deployments which can present operational challenges. Thus, DevOps practices like continuous integration and continuous delivery solve these issues and let organizations deliver rapidly in a safe and reliable manner. Infrastructure automation practices, like infrastructure as code and configuration management, help to keep computing resources elastic and responsive to frequent changes. In addition, the use of monitoring and logging helps engineers track the performance of applications and infrastructure so they can react quickly to problems.